As the candidates continue to register for Iran’s presidential election, it appears that two candidates are the top contendors. The first is President Hassan Rouhani, who is seeking a second term in office. The other contender is Ebrahim Raisi, one of the principalists faction and considered a close confident of the Supreme Leader Khamenei.
Both men received approval from Khamenei before they even began campaigning to the general public, showing that Iran’s regime is still fundamentally in charge. The vote of the people is not truly as important as Khamenei’s.
“Up to now, we can reach an initial conclusion that the charade Tehran is dubbing an election is more a selection, as both the main candidates are first seeking the approval of one individual before they ever begin campaigning among the general public,” said Shahriar Kia in an article in the American Thinker.
The choices being given to the Iranian people are essentially a deceptive individual in Rouhani and a brutal one in Raisi. Rouhani’s record includes repressive measures against women in the early days of the revolution, sending children and juveniles onto minefields during Iran-Iraq War, and allowing over 3,000 executions during his presidency. Poverty has also continued unabated, despite the 2015 nuclear agreement’s lifting of various sanctions, which were hailed as key to improving the economy.
Raisi has used the judiciary to climb the ranks of the regime. He participated in the “Death Commission” that was behind the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners. Recently, he was put in charge of the Astan Quds Razavi, one of Iran’s most powerful political and economic entities, by Khamenei.
It is important to understand that elections in Iran do not function as they do in democratic countries. One, in Iran, the president is the second-highest ranking official after the Supreme Leader, who has the final say in all state affairs. Candidates are vetted by the Election Monitoring Committee of the Guardian Council and they select the handful of candidates approved to run for office.
All candidates in the regime are required by law to exhibit “heart-felt and practical allegiance” to absolute clerical rule as a prerequisite of their candidacy. That allegiance is determined by the Guardian Council whose six clerics are installed by the Supreme Leader. The other six are chosen by the head of the Judiciary, who is selected by the Supreme Leader.
This effectively means that no one with differing political views is allowed to take part in the political process. There are no true political parties, just a combination of fundamentalism with slightly different faces.
The power struggle between faction is really just a power struggle to determine who has greater control over the country’s resources. In a statement on its website, the MEK called for people from all walks of life to boycott the elections. “Freedom and free elections based on the people’s right to sovereignty,” the statement read, inviting the entire nation to participate in a “nationwide campaign” aimed at shunning the elections through a variety of protests.
The regime is ill-prepared to deal with all the international and domestic issues bearing down on the country. They are fearful of another uprising, like those in 2009, but on a much larger scale.